The Decision Process: Everything You Need to Know to Sell More
Categories: Sales Discovery Process
As you transition in your career to selling larger contracts and working with more decision makers, your ability to navigate the decision process with multiple business influencers will be critical to hitting your quota. We often use the phrase, “getting multithreaded in your opportunities”. It’s a skill set that takes discipline and commitment in order to successfully navigate the decision process.
Improve your ability to sell to multiple decision makers within your accounts with the following best practices.
Navigating the Decision Process:
The decision process is not a one-time event. It’s an on-going process that converts interest (from multiple different decision makers) into action. It’s the intersection between your customer’s buying process and your internal sales process. As you qualify and work through your deals, there are two main components of the decision process that you need to be able to understand and influence:
- The Validation Process: the buyer’s way of verifying that your solution will satisfy their highest priority requirements—in other words, that it will work as promised.
- The Approval Process: the sequence of events required to obtain contract signatures once the validation has taken place.
Buyers will take specific steps to evaluate and select a partner — familiarize yourselves with these steps and how each decision maker in an opportunity plays a role in them. How does a CTO make their decision? When is the optimal time to get in front of a CRO, CEO, Operations manager, etc?
Begin to define the specific steps each decision maker will take to evaluate, select, approve, and purchase a solution. In every opportunity, the critical buying criteria decision makers use to evaluate a solution implementation typically centers around these three topics:
- Their before and after scenarios or positive business outcomes of implementing a solution
- Their requirements for a successful solution implementation
- Their metrics for measuring success
If you think you have a sense of what the decision process looks like in your buyer’s organization consider this, how many people have you validated the above criteria with? Are you following the customer’s lead, or are you influencing how and when the decisions on critical buying criteria (for validation or approval) get made? Are you building a business case that aligns different buying criteria, from each decision maker, into an enterprise-level business case that demands urgency? Assessing these questions in your deals will support you in building the right business case for an economic buyer(s) and controlling the sale.
Controlling the Sale
As a professional seller, part of your job is to facilitate the decision process and help your customer define the buying criteria above. Remember, everybody loves to be led, provided they believe that you (and your process) can get them to a place they cannot get to on their own. Be in control of helping your buyers navigate their decision process. Lead each decision maker to define their own PBOs, metrics, and solution requirements in a way that favors your solutions.
If you’re not in control of navigating this decision process with your buyers, your competitors can quickly move in and cause havoc for your opportunity. Keep in mind that having control doesn’t mean that customers don’t call the shots. They do, but elite salespeople work to understand the shots that are being called, and influence them so they can build their business case around a real opportunity for the enterprise, not just a part of the enterprise.
Align your sales activities to your buyer’s buying process so you can stay in control of when they’re making decisions around critical buying criteria. The more awareness and control you have the better you’ll be able to influence those decisions through your sales conversations. If you're not aligning your sales activities accordingly, you could miss an opportunity to uncover a big business problem or trap the competition around a key differentiator of your solution. Having control mitigates surprises around the deal and improves your ability to steer prospects away from competition (including a do-nothing or do-it-internally decision).
Getting Multithreaded in Your Opportunities
Closing an enterprise-level opportunity demands salespeople know how to get in front of multiple decision makers and help each one successfully navigate their validation and approval processes.
It’s no surprise that you cannot effectively build an enterprise-level business case if you are single-threaded in your deals. Your ultimate goal should be to get in front of multiple decision makers and coach them through each of their decision processes around specific PBOs, metrics, and solution requirements. Determine how many decision makers and business influencers you have access to. Find ways to get in front of the ones you don’t have access to … or may not even be aware of yet.
Think about what you know for a deal you’re currently working on:
- How many people have you been in contact with during the sales cycle?
- How many of them have you asked about how decisions get made at the company?
- How many of them do you trust?
- Which of them are closest to the Economic Buyer?
- Who have you asked to help you with getting an introduction to someone else in the company?
Once you determine who the decision makers are and who you do or do not have access to, create a plan to improve your control of the process and how you’re influencing the decision being made. Yes, this process may seem overwhelming, especially with every buying organization operating differently. But remember, spending necessary time mapping out the decision makers in your deal and influencing their buying criteria — minimizes your chances of margin cutting and losses.
Not every one of those touchpoints is critically important, and not every one of them is going to happen. The point is, if you only have access to two, three or even four people in your buyer’s organization — you will likely not have a significant understanding of the complexity of an enterprise-level buying decision. Aim to expand your reach in your buyer’s organization and get multithreaded in your opportunity so you can ensure a high-value close. [Dig deeper]
Improve Your Ability to Build an Enterprise-level Business Case
Getting multithreaded in your deals and executing effective discovery in front of each decision maker in your buyer’s business are two skills elite sellers use to win larger deals. These skills take practice and a constant focus on the fundamentals of great selling. We cover these tips and more on The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast.
Tune into our episode on Executing Great Discovery for tips and insights you can leverage in your current opportunities.